As the country marks the National Nutrition Week, which is commemorated every year between 09 to 15 October, the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) wishes to remind the public that eating more vegetables and fruit helps strengthen the immune system and protects against diseases.
The GDoH says the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Week is “Eat more vegetables and fruit every day,” and it is meant to showcase the health benefits of fruit and vegetables.
MEC for Health Spokesperson’s Kwara Kekana said, “Eating more fruit and vegetables promotes well-being and help with gut health, protects against heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.”
Furthermore, Kekana said that fruit and vegetables help to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes, and other non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
“Studies among adolescents and children younger that 15 years show that fruit and vegetables consumption is inadequate. South Africans and 15 years and older eat below the recommended 400 grams” he added.
Kekana noted that the World Health Organisation recommends 400 grams of fruit and vegetables combined in a day, and healthy food should include leafy vegetables, whole or dried fruits, 100% fruit juice and fresh, frozen or tinned vegetables or fruits.
“The GDoH urges parents to introduce and promote fruit and vegetables including amongst others, banana, pawpaw, sweet potato or pumpkin. This will not only strengthen the child’s immune system, but it will also help protect against diseases,” added Kekana.
He lastly mentioned that households are recommended to plant fruit trees in the yards and create mini vegetable gardens as this has been proven to be an affordable and sustainable way to increase dietary diversity and improve health outcomes.